The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Illegal immigration from Mexico is yesterday’s problem. Last year, more Mexicans left the United States than entered, according to the Pew Research Center. But if Donald Trump were to follow through on threats to ditch or decimate the North American Free Trade Agreement, illegal immigration from Mexico would become tomorrow’s problem.

Just his mouthing off on imports from Mexico has sent the Mexican peso cratering. That means Mexican products have already become cheaper in the U.S. market, making them more competitive. It also makes crossing the border for jobs paid in U.S. dollars more attractive.

Ah, but won’t that “beautiful” wall keep immigrant workers out? It will not. As long as U.S. employers can get away with hiring cheaper undocumented labor, they will. Trump himself knowingly employed undocumented workers in the building of Trump Tower. They flew over from Poland.

Building a wall along the Mexican border is pure theater. If the objective is to keep terrorists from invading the country in the dead of night, then a wall with Canada would make just as much sense.

One must sympathize with ranchers along the southern border plagued by drug cartels crossing their properties. But they see the actual building of a wall as a joke. In the words of one Arizona rancher (and no fan of Hillary Clinton’s): “That is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard.”

Enterprising criminals could quickly bulldoze or dig under such a barrier. Round-the-clock surveillance by the Border Patrol might stop them, but then, you wouldn’t need the wall.

Today’s border-crossing migrants are most likely to be fleeing brutal violence and extreme poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Most don’t want to sneak in at all, but instead put in claims for political asylum. That’s something they can do at official entry points in cities such as Laredo and El Paso, Texas.

Trump’s target audience for assaults on free trade, U.S. factory workers, would get little out of strangling trade with Mexico. Automakers and other manufacturers now rely on supply chains whereby their U.S. factories use parts and supplies made in lower-wage countries — and vice versa. This shared manufacturing enables companies to compete in world markets while employing high-paid labor here. (That said, automation is claiming jobs everywhere.)

This hasn’t gotten much national attention, but a round of trade wars would visit misery on our farm economy. For example, the U.S. is by far the world’s biggest exporter of corn, much of it headed to Asia and Latin America. Mexico happens to be the third-biggest foreign market for U.S. dairy and meat products.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association reported that American cattle producers were losing about $400,000 in sales every day the Trans-Pacific Partnership was not enacted. Trump just killed U.S. participation in that trade agreement. (Its members would have represented about 40 percent of the world’s economy.)

“TPP and NAFTA have long been convenient punching bags,” association president Tracy Brunner complained, “but the reality is that foreign trade has been one of the greatest success stories in the long history of the U.S. beef industry.”

An inescapable political note is that the farm belt overwhelmingly voted for the man who threatened its biggest foreign markets. You can’t blame Trump for this. He never wavered in his hostility to the big trade agreements that have benefited or could greatly benefit U.S. agriculture.

Back at the border, the wall will cost many billions while doing little to solve immigration and security problems. Rather, it will serve as a taxpayer-funded stage set for Trump whenever controversy pays a call and he needs a distraction. We’d better get used to this sort of thing.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at

IMAGE: A general view shows a newly built section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall at Sunland Park, U.S. opposite the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, November 9, 2016. Picture taken from the Mexico side of the U.S.-Mexico border. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez/File Photo

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the MAGA movement and far-right Christian fundamentalists have downplayed its severity — inspiring critics to slam MAGA as a suicidal "death cult." Christian fundamentalist Joy Pullmann, in a shocking op-ed published by the far-right website The Federalist on the day of Gen. Colin Powell's death, argues that Christians should welcome death from COVID-19, like any other cause of death, as "a good thing." And she attacks the "pagan assumptions" of those who argue in favor of widespread vaccination.

"For Christians, death is good," Pullmann writes. "Yes, death is also an evil — its existence is a result of sin. But thanks be to God, Jesus Christ has redeemed even death. In his resurrection, Christ has transformed death into a portal to eternal life for Christians…. The Christian faith makes it very clear that death, while sad to those left behind and a tragic consequence of human sin, is now good for all who believe in Christ."

Keep reading... Show less

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Don Winslow, the author of several New York Times bestsellers, blasted Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in a newly-released video shared on social media.

For months now, Manchin has positioned himself as one of the main roadblocks of President Joe Biden's proposed Build Back Better agenda, pushing back on key provisions including child tax credits and climate initiatives.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}